This past Thursday evening in War Memorial Gym, the basketball Lady Dons defeated the visiting Loyola Marymount Lions in an exciting 65-61 victory. This win was the third straight victory over the Lions, a season-sweep that the Dons have not held over the Lions since the 2002-03 season.
From the first minute, fans and players knew it would be a very close game. In the first quarter, the Dons and the Lions took turns leading the game a total of 10 times. However, the Lions were never too far ahead of the Dons; six points was the maximum deficit the Lions were able to earn the entire night. The first half was one of great stat reporting for the Dons, who impressed fans with a 52.2 shooting clip with a 53.3 mark made from beyond the arc.
Although the Lions showed great promise in their offensive attempts, the Dons were invincible with their three-pointer power streak. In the first half alone, the Dons made eight successful three-point shots. With one minute remaining in the second quarter, the Lions were leading 34-32. The eighth three-pointer of the half was made on the buzzer by freshman Don Rheina Ale, and it was a pivotal shot that sent USF into the second half with a 36-34 lead.
Although the scoreboard of the second half showed a close game, it was clear that the Lady Dons had their victory in the bag. Senior Shay Rollins of USF scored 8 of the Dons’ first 10 points, adding to what would be USF’s biggest lead of the game. With only 12 minutes left, the scoreboard read 46-41 in favor of the Dons.
As the half progressed, fans grew weary of what was thought to be an easy win for the Dons. LMU fired back with their top players, Cowling and Vargas. Together they crawled back to the leading seat with a one point lead (56-55) and only 5:32 left.
The Lions and the Dons faced off with a free throw contest in the final five minutes. The Lions were generally unsuccessful as Vargas missed two of their shots, and Ysaguirre missed the front end. USF had better luck as Keating gave USF the lead with two successful shots. Now, with less than two minutes to go, USF lead 57-56.
Although both teams put in their greatest effort the last two minutes, the Dons prevailed and managed 9-5 shots, and vectored with a final score of 65-61; two points higher than the last time the Dons defeated the Lions a month prior in Los Angeles.
Previously mentioned Rheina Ale and Shay Rollins were key players in Thursday’s games. Ale added 10 points to the Dons’ overall score as Rollins tied her own career high of 23 points, including going four for seven from the three-point mark. Freshman Don Vania Singleterry was another player essential for USF’s victory. Singleterry scored 18 points, as well as going seven for nine. These three had double-digit scorings for the Dons, but were not the only ladies securing USF’s victory. Freshman Katy Keating managed eight points, while attacking seven rebounds. Senior Don Leslie Walker rounded out the Lady Dons with five points. Impressively, sophomore Donnisha Taylor managed seven boards, two steals, two assists, and one point for the Dons.
After this game the Lions are now (7-10, 7-6 WCC), while the Dons are (7-20, 3-10 WCC). Saturday will complete the regular season for the Dons, as they host the Pepperdine Waves this Saturday.